Once upon a time, there was the Audio Technica ATH-M50 headphone. The ATH-M50 was geared towards studio use. They were advertised as a professional studio monitor. Shortly after gaining much popularity, the M50 was replaced by the M50x. Though the two headphones are nearly identical, a few differences have seen the Audio Technica ATH-M50x gain more popularity among users. In this review, I break down the ATH-M50x’s design and build quality, comfort and fit, sound, packaging and accessories, specs and more.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x Specs
Driver type: Dynamic driver
Driver size: 45mm
Headphone type: Over-Ear, Closed-Back
Impedance: 38 ohms
Sensitivity: 98 dB
Frequency Response: 15 – 28000 Hz
Headphone Connector: 3.5mm also a 6.3 mm (1/4″) screw-on adapter
Color options: Black, White, Gunmetal, Blue
Cable: Detachable 1.2 m – 3.0 m coiled cable, detachable 3.0 m straight cable and detachable 1.2 m straight cable
Headphone weight: 285 g/10 oz
Looks and Build Quality
Like it’s predecessor, the Audio Technica ATH-M50x. Comparing the two headphones side by side, there are quite a few observable differences you can spot. The ATH-M50x’s build is mostly out of plastic parts. However, it feels sturdy and I feel there is no issue or flaw to complain about.
The headband, however, has metal included which makes it flexible to wear. The padding, though more plush than the M50 is not that great. The materials included are not high quality and seem to crack over time. However, they are soft and should last quite sometime before they start chipping off. The bad news is you cannot replace the headband. however, replacement earpads can be bought online and replaced.
Apart from decent build quality, the design of the M50x is another win. The earcups rotate and twist to make the headphone very foldable and compact. Portability is a big plus attributed to the popularity of the M50x. Being able to use the headphone inside and outside is a big plus for people who are looking for an all-in-one headphone solution.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x also comes with a swappable cable design that did not feature in the M50. The headphone connector is a 2.5mm connector and features a groove for a twist-to-lock mechanism, which is proprietary. This limits a user to only the cables supplied by Audio Technica before an aftermarket option becomes available.
Headband and Clamping Pressure
The headband is made from a combination of plastics, metal and protein leather that cover the padding. The padding material on the headband is soft and decently padded though it gets uncomfortable. After a few several hours of use, you can dig into the top of your head. Periodically adjusting the position of the headband works well to prolong its usage.
The headband also offers a wide range of size adjustment to fit most head sizes. The clamping force is a little tight at first but should lessen with frequent use. For a quick solution, you can try and stretch out the headphone by holding your earcups and slowly pulling them. Repeat and test them on your head until the desired clamp is achieved. However, you should do this with care because using too much force might make a loose fit.
The earcups are big, however, the earpad’s openings are a little small plus an awkward shape that gets uncomfortable for folks with big ears. The earpads, like the headband, use a small amount of padding but still feel comfortable. However, during long sessions, the headphone does get uncomfortable. The cheap earpad padding also causes the headphone to get a bit warmer.
The materials used in the construction of the earpads is the same as the one that features on the headband. Though it is soft, the quality of the material leaves less to be desired over time. After using the headphone for a while, the earpad and headband cover starts to crack which escalates to peeling off after some time. However, the earpads can be replaced with aftermarket options which are readily available online.
As I earlier stated, the earcups can fold to a very compact design for easy transportation or compact storage. The earcups can also turn 180 degrees to rest flat on the table or lay flat on your chest when you have them around your neck. DJ’s can also use single-ear listening by flipping one earpiece with ATH-M50x. Overall, it offers various adjustments you can use to fit your needs.
Decent clamping pressure and a good fit should provide good passive noise isolation. Overall, I would put the isolation of the M50x at a good score. They do block and drown out the noise in less busy streets or places. They struggle a little bit in very noisy places, especially with a bad fit.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x is largely advertised as a professional studio monitor headphone. However, through the overall sound is balanced, I do not consider it to be reference quality. The overall sound is warm, with great bass response, a slightly recessed midrange and decent treble response.
The bass makes up the first section of the frequency response that should have no trouble with an average person. For the ATH-M50x, the low-end has a lot of power, a decent sub-bass presence, and a punchy mid-bass. Though the bass is well extended and tight, in some recordings it can get a little bit out of control. I find the bass great for the electronic genre and some bass oriented music. The bass is the main focus of the M50x also helps for traveling around by improving isolation.
The midrange as I earlier stated is a little recessed. The clarity is taken back a bit but the headphone is still enjoyable for long listening sessions. Though the bass and treble are a little pronounced, there is good separation. The bass does not bleed into the mids, and the highs are also well tamed.
The treble is well balanced and comes out clearly. Like the bass, it is pronounced/upfront and using the headphone at high volumes gets uncomfortable and fatiguing pretty fast.
Imaging and Soundstage
The soundstage is good for a closed-back headphone. It is not ‘in your head’ but it is also not wide. The imaging is good and you can at least tell the different directions of sounds from different instruments.
The Audio Technica ATH-M50x comes in a regular package like most of their headphones. Inside the box, the headphones sit in a cardboard cut out. The packages also come with 3 different cables to make everyone happy, 1/4″ adapter, and a drawstring storage pouch you can use to carry the headphones around. Though the pouch offers a way to carry the headphone, it will not protect the headphone from accidental falls. However, you can buy a hard body carrying case like the Slappa Hardbody Pro headphone case that properly fits the M50x.
The advantage of including a swappable cable is seen by the number of cables included in this package. The packages come with a 1.2-3m coiled cable, a 3m straight cable and lastly a 1.2m portable cable. On the headphone end, all the cables feature a 2.5mm TRS connector which has a proprietary design due to the locking groove. All three cables also have 3.5mm TRS jacks on the other end. The longer two cables have a thread for a 6.3mm adapter jack.
What we Like:
- Removable cable
- Build quality
- Excellent Punchy Bass
- Semi-decent comfort
- Better than average portability
- Decent isolation
- Cable selection
What we Don’t:
- Proprietary headphone connector
- Narrow soundstage
- Materials and durability
- Not studio monitors unlike label
|Audio Technica ATH-M50x||38 ohms||98 dB||15-28,000 Hz||285 g|
|Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro||80 ohms||96 dB||5 – 35.000 Hz||270 g|
|Audio Technica ATH-M40x||35 ohms||98 dB||15-24,000 Hz||240 g|
|Sony MDR 7506||63 ohms||106 dB||10-20,000 Hz||230 g|
|Audio Technica ATH-M60x||38 ohms||102 dB||15-28,000 Hz||200 g|
|Audio Technica ATH-MSR7||35 ohms||100 dB||5 – 40000 Hz||290 g|
Audio Technica ATH-M50x vs Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
The ATH-M50x and the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro fall in a similar price range. However, each of these headphones is different. First, the build quality is very different. While both are well built, the DT770 Pro is the best. The earcups are high-quality plastic which feels better than the M50x. The comfort of the DT770 Pro is also very good. The earcups are big and covered by velour. The headband is also good and the clamping force is right. The sound of these two headphones is quite similar. Both have an emphasis on the bass and treble while the midrange is a little recessed. However, the bass of the M50x is a lot more prominent with a lot of power. The soundstage and imaging of the DT 770 Pro is the best of the two and probably one of the best in closed-back headphones.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x vs M40x
The M50x and M40x are both good headphones. Build wise, the ATH-M50x is good, better than the M40x. The Audio Technica ATH-M40x is smaller, compact and lighter. They do feel cheaper but it should be okay if you handle them properly. Soundwise, both headphones are not neutral. The bass of the M50x has more slam and impact. The M40x overall aims for a neutral and balanced sound signature. The ATH-M40x has a more flat sound signature which I think is great for budget audiophiles or music-making. The M50x is better for listening to music, but not critically.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x vs M60x
The Audio Technica ATH-M60x has an on-the-ear design. On-ear headphones have always lacked comfort. I rarely use on-ear headphones because of comfort issues. Audio Technica did a great job with the M60x. The build is good, and the material seems of a higher quality. Though they are not collapsible like most headphones in the ATH-MXXx series, they are lightweight and the clamping pressure is good. Comparing these to the M50x, the bass is not as loud but has a nice slam. The midrange and treble response is more pronounced which makes music more immersive and revealing. Vocals, instrument separation, soundstage, and imaging are all better on the M60x.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x vs Sony MDR 7506
The Sony MDR 7506 and the ATH-M50x are both considered studio headphones. The build of the MDR 7506 is great and sturdy. The headphone is light but lacks the portability associated with the M50x. The 7506 also does not have a removable cable which is a disadvantage unless you want to try modding the headphone. Soundwise, the Sony MDR 7506 has less bass. The treble and mids are prominent which makes them a great headphone that will allow you to hear subtle things other headphones would otherwise miss. If you are deciding between the ATH-M50x and Sony MDR 7506 for studio headphones, I would advise you to pick the Sony.
Audio Technica ATH-M50x vs MSR7
The ATH-MSR7 I reviewed weeks ago is a great headphone. It is well built with better materials. The comfort is good and overall better than the M50x. For critical listening or studio monitoring, the MSR7 is a solid choice over the M50x. The bass is not prominent, the mids are well balanced and clear while the treble is slightly bright. Read my Audio Technica ATH-MSR7 review for an in-depth view of the headphone.